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January 2006 Vol. 32, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Beat the Bite. . . avoiding mosquitoes

from the January, 2006 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In the October 2004 Undercurrent, Doc Vikingo discussed various malaria medications, including recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control. CDC guidelines on preventing malaria in various destinations can be found at Besides following the CDC recommendations regarding antimalarial medications, a diver should take routine precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Wear light-colored long sleeved shirts and pants, avoiding dark or bright colors. Stay indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Use a proven insect repellent, such as those containing at least 30% DEET. While it’s safe to apply DEET regularly over that 2-3 week vacation, don’t use it with sunscreen. A new study by Edward M. Ross, MD, published in Drug Metabolism and Disposition, shows that the combination with some sunscreens allows DEET to be absorbed faster by the skin. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against using DEET on infants under two months of age; the Academy has not formulated recommendations for the use of picaridin, another form of rellent, on either infants or children.

Some people don’t like DEET’s smell or its feel on the skin. It also poses a rare risk of skin irritation and, if misused, a remote risk of neurological side effects. Two newly recommended active ingredients are picardin, used in Cutter Advanced, and oil of lemon eucalyptus products such as Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Spray.

Consumer Reports says, “We hired an outside lab to compare Cutter Advanced with Cutter Unscented, which contains 10 percent DEET . . . Both repellents prevented bites for about 2 to 3 hours with the aggressive species, 8 hours for the other. . . .Consider Cutter Advanced with picardin, particularly if you need just a few hours of protection . . .” Consumer Reports also found that Cutter Advanced had “only a very faint aroma of corn chips.” Picardin, in use worldwide since 1998, is odorless, with a light, clean feel.

The CDC considers oil of lemon eucalyptus, like picardin, as effective against mosquitoes as DEET. Consumer Reports tested Repel Lemon Eucalyptus spray against another repellent containing 10 percent DEET and found that Repel prevented bites for 4 – 7 hours for aggressive mosquito species and more than 12 hours for less aggressive mosquitoes. That’s longer than the repellent used in the test as well as picardin.

To check for last-minute info on malaria outbreaks, go to the CDC Travel Notices website at outbreaks.htm

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